Post Sandy wish list: solar-powered public chargers


Strawberry EnergyIn the wake of super storm Sandy, images emerged of New Yorkers without power crowded around public outlets desperate to charge their cell phones. A Serbian startup called Strawberry Energy has actually been installing devices, well before Sandy hit, that would have come in pretty handy after the storm’s power crunch.

Strawberry Energy builds solar-powered public charging stations that enable passersby to charge up their cell phones and gadgets. A member of the team, Tijana Manitaševi?, tells me that they have a new design (pictured left), created by architect Miloš Milivojevi?, which is meant to more closely mimic the structure of a tree and is called the Strawberry Tree Black. Manitaševi? calls the new design more “user friendly” and a better fit into the environment (see former design to the right).

Strawberry EnergyThe team installed this latest version in Tašmajdan Park, in Belgrade — the installation was their eighth one in Serbia and their second one in Belgrade. The trees are three and a half meters long and five meters tall, and have their own batteries, which store energy when the sun isn’t shining.

The new design also includes a bench in front of the tree with space for people to sit while charging their phones, as well as nine thin film solar panels that also act as a partial roof for users if there’s bad weather. Previously the design used two more traditional solar panels.

Do you want one of these in your local town center?


Mike Simm

I’ve seen these in Serbia for quite some time now. They’re come in quite handy! Haven’t noticed any tampering at all.
In regards to ‘sucking the private data off your phone’, isn’t that even more possible at just about every coffee shop that you visit and tap for WiFi?
These ‘trees’ would be great in Central Park.


Battery backup systems for your home or business are very expensive and may not actually be cost affective. Most roof top solar systems shut off when the grid is down. I think a stand alone battery storage solar system like this is a great idea.

Henk, I’m guessing this company has no interest in sucking the private data off your phone, you’re not that important.

any info on whether or not these trees have been tampered with in Serbia?

Zoran Lojanica

No tampering, and this is coming from a local. Frankly, I’m surprised you guys don’t have something similar in the US. They’re very handy if you’re out all day making/receiving calls and your battery runs out, cause they have power cords for various types of phones preinstalled. I can’t imagine how useful they’d be in circumstances of a complete grid failure. And no, I am not selling these :D

Michael W. Perry

Not that practical. Put something like that in a public park, and it will be defaced and looted long before there’s an emergency in which it is needed.

More practical is to install a solar system in your home or office and use it daily to charge digital devices. That’ll recoup some of the cost and ensure that you keep it working. And then when disaster hits, it’s there, ready to charge your must-have devices, including night-time lighting. Just make sure it’s sturdy enough or well enough protected by a cover to survive whatever disaster is common in your area.

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